MLB The Show 19 – First Impressions

The 2019 MLB baseball season is finally here! Though The Show 19 has only been out for not even two weeks, I can already say this year’s offering from San Diego Studios is looking to be one of the best ever.

The most difficult thing for a developer has to be finding ways to make a sports game interesting and engaging year after year. This year’s The Show game includes the new mode March to October which is a sort of condensed season where you play mostly situational spots through the scheduled season to help your team build momentum, or “catch fire”. This can be anything from completing a series sweep against a division rival to completing a no-hitter for your starting pitcher with player rewards coming at the end of the season. Also new this year is the Moments mode where you play out significant situations throughout baseball history. The starting Moments programs include a Babe Ruth career arc, as well as Willie Mays, the Chicago Cubs historic World Series season, and rookie season for current cover star Bryce Harper. The different challenges have archived in game footage setting up the moment, which I really enjoy as a baseball fan and history geek.

The new Moments mode where you can “call your shot” as Babe Ruth or make “The Catch” as Willie Mays

The XP/Rewards system this year is a little different, and for the better I believe. There are two different paths that you can earn rewards from player cards and equipment to simply more stubs…to purchase more cards and equipment 😉 The first is the XP Path Rewards in which you receive a new reward every five or so levels you increase your profile which is looking to pay off with some pretty nice cards for your Diamond Dynasty team. There is also the Star Program rewards path, which is pretty much the same as the XP path only you receive varying amounts of stars as a result of winning a game or completing the rotating in-game missions that are offered. This too, results in some nice rewards as I already picked up a level 95 diamond-rated Goose Gossage to add to the bullpen of my Diamond Dynasty team.

The game mechanics have been tweaked a bit over the offseason; the player defense is the most realistic I have seen in a baseball simulation game meaning no more awkward throw animations or bumbling fielding attempts. The hitting has also been altered ever so slightly, there is actually good, solid feedback when you get the bat on the ball which is an improvement over last year. I genuinely hope San Diego Studios doesn’t feel the need to experiment with batting physics again this year. There is also an array of different home run calls and animations that can be used for your Road to the Show players which are fun to set, even if it doesn’t affect how the game plays.

There are a couple very minor dislikes about the game such as there isn’t really any additions or improvements made to Franchise mode, or simply the fact that the game boast an overwhelming abundance of game modes and settings and cards that it is near baffling to first play. There is also a feeling that the Live Series player cards actually have a “live” bat versus some of the Flashback Series cards I have used in the past few years…nevertheless, I have truly enjoyed the 40 or so hours I have put into the game so far and have to remind myself that the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. MLB The Show 19 is another home run!